July Fourth preview: Ice cream social goes green (7/2/09)

Compostable material to replace plastic utensils

July 2, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

When Williston residents gather in the village Friday evening for the annual ice cream social, they’ll notice the event has become a lot greener. Organizers plan to make this year’s Fourth of July ice cream treat the first waste-free social in its history.


    File photo
Laura Jennings picks up a strawberry and chocolate sundae at last year’s ice cream social on July 3. This year, organizers plan to make the event waste-free.

Members of the Williston Historical Society, which sponsors the social, are collaborating with WING’s Green Initiatives Committee to ensure nothing from the ice cream social ends up decomposing in a landfill. Instead of Styrofoam plates and plastic spoons, attendees will eat with compostable utensils and biodegradable bowls.

WING committee member Lori Fisher has worked with the Historical Society in organizing the green ice cream social.

“They immediately embraced it,” Fisher said. “They were very eager to get on board.”

The WING Green Initiatives Committee, which meets every two weeks, has sponsored environmental film viewings and other green events. The committee was one of the five groups formed out of the Williston Into the Next Generation town gathering in April 2008.

“It’s a small core group of members, but we’re growing,” Fisher said.

Terry Macaig, president of the Historical Society and Selectboard chairman, said the society wanted to make the event as environmentally conscious as possible. Macaig estimated the price tag for the biodegradable silverware is $100 more than the silverware of past events.

“The (Green Initiatives) Committee is organizing all the materials and we (the Historical Society) are fronting the cost,” Macaig said.

Biodegradable plates and utensils look much like their plastic counterparts. The difference is that the environmentally sound cutlery eventually decomposes and doesn’t sit in a landfill for hundreds of years, Fisher said. Typically, the biodegradable materials are made using corn and wheat-based acids and are just as durable as plastic ware.

“They’ll break down to a benign substance,” Fisher said.

To help people know how to properly dispose of their bowls, spoons and leftover ice cream, members of the WING committee will be on hand at waste stations located around the village green. After the event is over, the committee members will collect the utensils and bring them to the Chittenden Solid Waste District for proper disposal. Fisher explained the district will be able to compost the items in large quantities.

Macaig said he expects a good turnout at the social, even if the weather is less than perfect. He said the Historical Society will ask people for a $2 donation per bowl of ice cream. All proceeds will benefit the Williston Community Food Shelf.

The ice cream social and Town Band concert is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 3. The Firecracker 5K Fun Run takes place at 6 p.m.